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Mardi Gras for US petrochemicals

Interesting comments from Wells Fargo analyst Frank Mitsch attending the IHS Global Petrochemicals Conference in Houston, Texas, which had record attendance of around 1,200. “The mood is rather jovial, with every other sentence containing shale gas and cheap ethane,” said Mitsch. “The Middle East, long thought to be advantaged, is having to shift its slate […]

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Downstream partnerships can take advantage of US shale

Non-US chemical companies may feel like they’re on the outside, looking into the shale gas party. But there’s an opportunity for these firms to take advantage of cheap shale gas feedstocks – through downstream partnerships. There are already plans to build 7 new world-scale crackers in the US. That combined with expansions of existing facilities […]

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A geographic disconnect

There is an interesting disconnect between how players in one geography view conditions in another, and how local players see their own market dynamics. For example, major European chemical companies have a rather optimistic outlook on growth in China and Asia, pinning their hopes on the region to drive earnings growth in 2013 and beyond. […]

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US ethylene and PE margins headed for a record in Q1

It’s going to be a bonanza in the first quarter for US ethylene and polyethylene producers using ethane/propane feedstock. Buoyed by abundant natural gas liquids (NGL) production from shale gas, margins are headed for record highs, even as spot ethylene prices come off a bit, noted Susquehanna International Group analyst Don Carson. “With increases in […]

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US LNG exports and the gasoline situation

Very interesting comment from Jim Cramer on CNBC’s Mad Money last night on US gasoline prices – that part of the reason they are high is because US refiners are choosing to export gasoline. The US LNG export debate is analogous to what’s happening with US gasoline. The US is producing much more oil from […]

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Middle East petrochemical producers move up the cost curve

Just how far up the global ethylene cost curve will Middle East crackers go? One Wall Street analyst sees dramatic cost escalation for producers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran as ethane supplies dry up and feedstock costs rise, especially for mixed feed crackers that use ethane as well as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) – […]

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Planned US LNG export projects parallel cracker slate

As you look over the impressive list of planned projects for North American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, you can see a parallel in the heavy project slate for planned new world scale crackers in the US. Both are being driven by the US shale gas boom. Yet there is the potential for one to […]

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Here comes the US shale gas infrastructure

All the planned new US ethane crackers and expansions, debottlenecks and conversions of existing crackers will need lots of the natural gas liquid (NGL) feedstock. And companies are already racing to boost NGL fractionation capacity and build out pipelines to bring gas from the major shale gas formations to petrochemical facilities. US natural gas processor […]

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US shale gas boom to lead to petrochemical bust

The US shale gas boom and the resulting low prices of natural gas are spurring a wave of new crackers and expansions in the country. Ultimately, the US ethylene market could see a 29% increase in capacity by 2017 (see our full analysis in the February 13 issue of ICIS Chemical Business. Three local producers […]

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Risk to Q4 chemical earnings estimates

Do third quarter earnings really matter? As we move into the thick of the earnings season, all eyes will be on how the fourth quarter is shaping up and how analysts will handicap fourth-quarter 2011 and full-year 2012 projections. Leading up to results, pre-announcement warnings have been scarce in the chemical group, boding well for […]

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